It’s a sad day for Beatles fans – Neil Aspinall, the band’s road manager, and later, the shepherd of the Apple catalog and the Fab Four’s in-house historian, has died in New York City of lung cancer. He was 66.
While his value to the band was largely as confidant, his value to the public was as Beatles archivist – it was Aspinall who conceived of, and helmed, the Anthology project. That included contributing a huge wealth of anecdotes to the coffee table book, as well as penning the lion’s share of the fascinating liner notes that came with the CDs.
I don’t have those notes handy, so I can’t quote any of his incisive and clever commentary; suffice it to say that, if I’ve ever said anything about the Beatles that you’ve considered incisive, I probably cribbed it from Aspinall’s booklets.
Anthology is oft-cited as the kindling that ignited a recent resurgence in interest in the Beatles, from One to Let It Be…Naked to Cirque du Soleil’s Love. While I doubt the Beatles would have faded from memory without Anthology, it was that set’s sax-laden version of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” that converted me from naive Help fan to Beatles fanatic in my pre-teen years.
Correction: An earlier version of this post identified the man whacking the anvil in the video above of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” as Aspinall. It is in fact fellow Beatles road manager Mal Evans. We apologize for the error.